The Daily Feed: Why Fewer Options May Spur Spending

If some choice is good, more is better. Right?

Not so fast. In Saturday’s New York Times' Your Money column, writer Alina Tugend recounts a famous study involving gourmet store jam displays. When faced with too many jam varieties—say, 24 kinds versus six—customers were more likely to stop and taste but less likely to purchase jam. When faced with fewer options (the six), they were less likely to stop, but those who did stop and taste were ten times more likely to purchase jam. Too much choice, the study found, inhibited spending.

The article points out, too, that our satisfaction with our purchases declines when we have too many items from which to choose. If we had many options and chose one, we’re more option to buyers’ remorse (that feeling of post-purchase regret) than if we had fewer choices to start.

Think about how these findings may apply to your own shopping proclivities. Are you likely to buy more, or less, when faced with a wall of options for, say, yogurt? And when you get home from sprawling superstores, do you tend to feel pleased with your purchases?


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule.

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